When you finally kick back to enjoy some downtime after that incredibly busy networking event, you may not think you have much to show for it. That massive deck of business cards sure looks impressive, but how can you turn it into something lucrative?
Congratulations! You may not realize it, but you’ve just reached the first rocky pinnacle of the networking process. Now it’s on to the second stage—reaping the rewards. Use these eight tips to follow-up your glad handing and to turn networking leads into business, and the ROI of your trip will begin to materialize in no time:
1. Link up on LinkedIn
Send all your event contacts an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Express your willingness to introduce them to other professionals in your network. Who knows? They might offer to do the same for you, helping you increase your reach and influence across the industry.
2. Send Valuable Content
Another great way to follow up with a contact is by sending them valuable content. Ask them if they would like to subscribe to your company’s email updates to learn more about your products and/or services. If your firm just wrote a brilliant white paper, shoot your new contact a link or a copy of the document.
3. Have Something to Say
Presumably, you scored a ton of new business cards at the shindig and are ready to reach out. If you find yourself at a loss in regard of topics to discuss, Google the contact’s name or business. A little reconnaissance info might provide you a conversation starter. Did the contact’s firm just earn a new patent or land a major client? Did they just launch a killer new app? Have they won an industry award for a product or service? If so, these are things you can mention to get their tongues a-waggin’!
4. Walk Down Memory Lane
When sending follow up emails, be sure to reference anything you talked about with your new connections to refresh their memory, since they probably met with scores of other people as well. You may not hear back right away, but remember: just because a contact doesn’t call back immediately, it doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Everyone else, like you, is a busy business professional, so stay pleasantly persistent and you’ll be sure to stay top-of-mind.
5. Check In Regularly
Additionally, be sure to remind yourself to reconnect with your contact each month. They might not be interested in your products or services right now, but things are constantly changing in the dynamic world of commerce. Remember: stay in touch, but don’t overdo it. Too much connecting can kill your efforts.
6. Schedule a Call
Suggest a 15-minute phone call that will be of mutual benefit to you and your new peer – although you’ll want to focus on how the call will help him or her primarily. You can discuss products, services, trends, or anything else that might benefit your connection. Do some research before you make the suggestion, however, so your contact knows you did your homework and are genuinely interested in seeing how you can help one another.
7. Schedule a Meeting
If you formed an especially strong bond with a connection who works relatively close by, ask to set up a one-on-one meeting at an equidistant location. This doesn’t have to be anything formal. A lunch or breakfast get-together can be just as valuable and mutually beneficial as a conference room meeting.
8. Create a Partnership
If you really luck out – and many do at industry events – see if your contact is interested in creating a strategic partnership. While this could be something as cataclysmic as a joint venture, it could also be something as simple as an agreement to help each other find new opportunities. Industry events often specialize in attracting businesses and executives whose offerings complement one another. Don’t let a partnership opportunity pass you by.
Pick and choose from the suggestions above, or combine some of them to develop your own follow-up strategies. Never let a networking event go to waste again.
Featured photo credit: Image Credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com